Five Stages: Denial
"It is said that when your parents die, you lose your past. When your spouse dies, you lose your present. And when your child dies, you lose your future.
However, when your sibling dies... you lose your past, present, and future." - Unknown.
"Callaghan is in there. Someone has to help."
That's what Tadashi told him before Hiro Hamada watched his brave, selfless older brother disappear into the entrance of the showcase hall which is now burning.
Hiro checked around and his eyes landed on several bystanders. Why are they standing around? Why are they not going in there to help his brother?
Fear override his senses and thoughts; he couldn't bear to stand by helplessly, panicking and wondering if his brother--his best friend, and his entire world--would ever come out safe. He picked up Tadashi's cap and looked at it. Within a millisecond, his mind is made up. He will not lose his brother like this.
It was an inferno inside the building and it was difficult to see through the rising orange flames while smoke filled his lungs. Yet, Tadashi has to find Professor Robert Callaghan, a respectable teacher on robotics engineering. When Tadashi applied to San Fransokyo Institute of Technology (or "SFIT" for short), he was thrilled to be studying under this famous scientist and Tadashi looked up to Callaghan as a mentor. Callaghan admired Tadashi's intelligence and love for robots, and encouraged him to become a great inventor who would go on to shape the future.
It wasn't hard to question why he would blindly run into danger to save a teacher.
Tadashi avoided flames and fallen debris, trying to find the right path to the main where he last saw his professor. However, it was apparent that it too dangerous for him to go any further and Tadashi was forced to make a painful decision; there is no way he can save his teacher and get them out together in time. The flames are too powerful.
Tadashi withdrew quickly and flung himself outside where he is finally safe. Guilt began to eat up inside him... he has failed to save Callaghan. He hoped the fire department was immediately called so they can try to rescue him in time. There is a crowd gathering nearby, they watch in horror as the flames eat up the building. He scanned around, looking for his little brother who was supposed to be waiting for him.
"Hiro?" he called out. "HIRO?! Has anyone seen my brother?!”
A college student hurried over towards him. He was holding Hiro’s hoodie jacket. Tadashi grabbed him, terror began to rise in his chest.
“Why do you have that? Where’s my brother?!”
The student’s face turned pale. “After you went in to save Callaghan, your kid brother got so worried for you. I tried to stop him, but…”
Tadashi’s heart sank and his blood turned to ice. He was about to hurry back inside the hall when a deafening boom knocked him to the ground. The building has exploded.
His head pounding and his body heavy in pain from the blow. Tadashi opened his eyes and felt blood trickling down from his forehead. He ignored it and shakily got up on all fours. His body shook harder when he saw the fire has gotten bigger and the entire entrance was destroyed.
N... no.. he thought. Oh, god no... No no no no no no...
It was like he swallowed in silence and he couldn't breathe at first. He wanted to throw up.
"Hiro...!" he called out his dear brother.
His brother could still be in there. Tadashi has to hurry if he has to rescue him.
He mustered enough to strength and tried to run back into the building but a pair of powerful arms grabbed him.
"Son't!" A male voice cried. "The firemen are here!"
This could not be happening to Tadashi. He could feel his entire body shattering like glass. Finally, a despairing scream rose from his lungs.
Tadashi retreated to his room after everyone has gone home and gave him their condolences. But they were cold and empty to him, he couldn’t feel anything at all during the funeral.
A silent gloom fell over him while he removed his coat. His eyes caught his brother’s swivel chair facing the computer. It seemed like yesterday he caught Hiro surfing online for botfights right after they just came home from going to jail. It was also that same night he got Hiro interested to apply for SFIT.
He still couldn't believe his brother was taken away from him in a flash of fire and light.
He refused to believe it.
He always hanged on to that tiniest hope that that his brother somehow has survived and is just recovering in a hospital somewhere. Probably waiting for Tadashi to get him. And when he gets better, both Hamada boys could attend SFIT together, and create world-changing inventions together just like both brothers always dreamed of.
Tadashi walked over to Hiro’s chair and spin it around. He expected to see his little brother’s snarky, guilty expression. There was nothing.
Hiro is gone.
"Are you sure you’re ready to go back to SFIT, Tadashi?" Aunt Cass gently asked him before he walked out of the cafe. "It’s been three days since the funeral, it’s okay to stay home if you want."
Tadashi gave her a cheerful smile. It was forced, but he didn’t want to worry her. “I’ll be alright, Aunt Cass,” he said. “I’ll see you later.”
"Okay, then. If you need me, you can always call—" She didn’t manage to finish her words, her nephew has already left.
Tadashi’s friends were surprised to see him walking into the campus as well.
"Are you really okay, Tadashi? We’re so worried about you," Honey said. She placed a soft hand on his shoulder, but the inventor shrugged it off.
Tadashi just nodded. “Of course, I am. It still hurts that Hiro’s gone…” He paused and stared at the ground. His lips then form into a hopeful smile.
“But Hiro isn’t really gone, as long as we remember him, right? He wouldn’t want me moping around forever.”
Fred grinned and wrapped an arm around his friend’s shoulder. “We’re proud of you for being brave, man. We promise not to forget your little bro, and we’ll be here to support ya! Oh, this school mascot has been working on some new spinning moves, you have to see them…”
"Oh no," Wasabi groaned. "Is this really the right time?"
Gogo just looked at Tadashi without saying a word. Tadashi doesn’t know what she’s thinking, and it’s beginning to annoy him a little. However, this will not ruin his day and he’s going to face it head-on.
"Alrighty, let’s get going—" Tadashi spoke up but he was interrupted by Wasabi.
"Hey look, Tadashi. It’s the memorial the other students set up."
Tadashi stopped and stared the memorial at the entrance of SFIT. There are two photographs, one for Professor Callaghan and one for Hiro Hamada. The pictures were surrounded by candles and flowers that were set there by students. Tadashi slowly approached the memorial and stared at his brother’s picture. Hiro’s face and his toothy smile radiated like sunshine, yet it was lifeless like a shadow.
Tadashi’s chest tightened but he swallowed back his sobs. Without another word, he marched into the campus without looking back. Gogo, Wasabi, Honey, and Fred were left behind as they watched him go, their faces fell with sadness.
He couldn’t concentrate on his classes today. As much as he tried to pay attention to the lessons, Tadashi often found his mind drifting to somewhere else. His teachers were patient with him though, and they didn’t gave him homework today since they assume he’s still hurting after what happened to his kid brother and they didn’t want to burden him.
Tadashi, however, was irritated that they’re pitying him. He doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him, this is HIS problem and pain—not theirs—he’s facing. After classes ended, instead of retreating to his lab like he always did before, Tadashi decide to leave early.
"Do you want to hang out with us later, Tadashi?" Honey asked, trying to cheer him the best as she could. "Wasabi’s treating us to dinner at this sushi restaurant. You know, the one where we hang out together a couple of times."
"The same place where I spilled wasabi on my shirt one time," Wasabi chuckled. "I don’t mind my nickname anymore… But Hiro would have love the place—"
Tadashi forced a grin, his hand tightening its grip on the strap of his bag. “No, you guys go on without me. I’ve got plenty of homework to catch up, especially the new ones piled up on me.”
"What new homework?" Gogo scoffed before popping her bubblegum.
Tadashi gave her a quick, dirty look. Before he can leave, Fred jumped in front of him, holding up his arms out.
"C’mon, Tadashi," Fred said. "Let me hug you. You look like you need one—"
"Not now, Fred," Tadashi mumbled, pushing him away. He ignored his friends’ pained expressions. He just wanted to be left alone.
Tadashi left the Robotics Lab building. The sun’s blaring rays hurt his eyes, and Tadashi wished he still has his baseball cap to cover them. His favorite cap is probably lost in the fire too.
His heart began to ache terribly, as though someone is squeezing the life out of it.
Before he can completely leave the campus, Tadashi went back to the entrance and removed the memorial photograph of Hiro away. He cannot stand anyone looking at the picture of his lost brother, hearing them part a few words that seemed shallow instead of genuine before going on their merry way.
Aunt Cass was surprised to see her nephew home earlier than she expected, but she welcomed him home with a warm smile.
"I’m so proud of you for being so brave going to school today," she told him. A lightbulb lit up inside her head. She wanted to do something special for him. "I’m going to cook you something some chicken wings tonight. You know the spicy ones that seem to melt your face off?" She made movements of her hands fanning her face. "Hiro really loved them, he thought his face would burn up into flames—"
She saw Tadashi’s expression froze and she realized what she just said. Her face broke. “Tadashi, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean—!”
"Sorry, Aunt Cass. I don’t feel like eating tonight anyway," Tadashi said stiffly.
The inventor walked up the stairs, just in time to hear his aunt breaking into low sobs. When he reached his bedroom, he saw Mochi curling up on top of Hiro’s jacket lying on Hiro’s bed. The jacket is what was left of his brother.
Blood boiling with rage, he began screaming at Mochi, "Get out, you stupid cat!"
The calico cat gave him a sad look before jumping off from Hiro’s bed and walking away. Now that he’s alone, Tadashi takes out the picture of Hiro he managed to snatch from the memorial. He removed the frame, tossing it into the trashcan, and placed the photograph near his own bed on his side of the room.
Tadashi sighed as fatigue began to take hold of him. He felt extremely tired. He changed into his bed clothes and flopped on the bed. He felt like sleeping early tonight, but his body is starting to hurt all over. He ignored it and forced himself to sleep, but his dreams were plagued by nightmares of Hiro crying out for his older brother’s name, before they were silenced by the crackling flames.
Tadashi thought going back to SFIT yesterday was bad, but returning to school today is actually worse. Every student is either avoiding or coming over to give him their sympathy. He eventually got tired of it that he told his friends that he won’t be joining with them for lunch.
"I’m just gonna go grab a bite somewhere else," he said. "Don’t worry, I’ll be back before the next class starts."
This was a lie. He just doesn’t want to see or talk with anyone else today. He revved up his moped and left the campus immediately. He zoomed through the streets of San Fransokyo, feeling lost in his grief and emptiness. He decided to take a ‘scenic route’ through the dinghy alleys, since he didn’t feel like immediately coming straight home at this moment.
As he passed through the shadowy alleys, he realized this is the same place where he rescued Hiro from being beaten up by Yama’s men after he destroyed Yama’s robot. He snorted to himself, what was his brother thinking—going to illegal botfights and risking himself getting hurt or arrested. Then again, if he had let Hiro continue doing what he was good at, then he wouldn’t lost his life in the fire…
Tadashi wasn't paying attention when he saw a figure of a kid walking around a corner. A kid about fourteen-years-old, with a wearing a familiar dark-blue hoodie covering his head…
"Hiro?!" Tadashi gasped. He stopped his moped and ran after the kid.
It couldn’t be... Hiro died in the accident.
Mind racing and heart bursting with hope, Tadashi chased after the shadowy figure, who sensed him and broke into a run.
"Hiro, where are you going?" he called out to him. Tears of happiness began to leak out from the corner of his eyes. "It’s me, Tadashi! Your niisan! I can’t believe it—you’re alive!"
Hiro didn’t seem to listen to his older brother. He continued running and until he turned to another corner. Tadashi followed him into an open area that was just a dead end.
'Hiro' finally stopped running and began to shout,"St-stop chasing me, please!"
The young teenager then faced Tadashi. It was actually a young Japanese girl wearing similar clothes like Hiro and her eyes were full of fear.
"I'll give you some money, just don't hurt me..." she begged. She thought Tadashi was chasing her in a dark alley for sinister reasons.
However, when he realized he mistook someone else for his brother, Tadashi went crumpling to the ground. His grieving sobs echoed throughout the entire area while the young girl awkwardly left him alone.
As the days passed, Tadashi often skipped classes to the point he eventually stopped coming to SFIT. Returning to school was supposed to take his mind from Hiro’s death and so he can appear strong for everybody, but it only made him missed his little brother even more.
On days he skipped classes Tadashi, like a lost little child, would wander around the areas he knows Hiro often visited, hoping that he would find a glimpse of his brother—alive and safe.
It did nothing good for him. Sorrow, bitterness, and loneliness continue plaguing his mind and body each day. Tadashi not only stopped attending school, he also stopped going outside by keeping himself isolated from everyone in his bedroom. He ignored all the phone calls and e-mails his friends tried to contact him. Aunt Cass still kept trying to help him and ease his pain, but all her efforts ended up in vain.
Tadashi is also having difficulties sleeping. One night, he woke up again from his usual nightmares and found his pillow soaked from his tears.
It became like a regular thing for him, dreaming of his brother’s death and seeing hallucinations of his brother almost everywhere.
Hiro isn’t really gone, as long as we remember him… What a load of crock! It still hurts to this day! Hiro is gone because of Tadashi could not save him.
Tadashi eyes looked around his surroundings, trying to find something that will stop the pain. His eyes landed on the red portable box that contained his greatest school project, the caregiver robot Baymax. The same robot he showed off to Hiro, who was impressed by his big brother’s invention.
No, he doesn’t need a nursebot. He needed something else.
He needed his brother.
Tadashi got up and walked over to Hiro’s side of the room. He then returned to his bed, holding Hiro’s Megabot close to his heart. He kissed the battle bot, pretending he was kissing his little brother goodnight.
"Good night, Hiro…" Tadashi whispered as fresh tears began to burn his eyes once more. He curled up into a fetal position, crying quietly to sleep.